Saturday, January 7, 2006

I Rise in Apposition...

Fewer and fewer people seem to get appositives and how to use them.

From today's paper:

Engelmann and his wife Barbara bought the house...

It should be "his wife, Barbara, bought" because the "his wife" and "Barbara" are one and the same. "Barbara" should be set off by commas because it is used as a non-restrictive appositive--there is only one wife, whose name is Barbara, and the sentence functions fine without her name. "His wife" and "Barbara" are equivalent.

Here's another from Dennis Weaver's obit Feb.27
He and his wife Gerry built a solar-powered Colorado home out of recycled tires and cans.

This is an extremely common error.

The Armchair Grammarian explains it quite well, as does Wikipedia.

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